Bears’ film session: Mitch Trubisky-led offense clearly has work to do

 In U.S.
The Bears broke out all the bells and whistles to help first-round pick Mitch Trubisky in his NFL debut in Monday night’s 20-17 loss to the Vikings at Soldier Field.

Play-action, bootlegs, rollouts, sprint outs and more were designed to accentuate Trubisky’s athleticism and put him in situations where he was most comfortable. It worked at times, but the Bears struggled sustaining drives and had only two possessions that generated more than 45 yards.

The Bears took turns with self-inflicted wounds and it was a collective shortcoming. They were particularly poor on third down as they converted only 3 of 12 and were behind the chains too often. The offense faced seven situations that were third-and-10 or more and only had four attempts that were less than third-and-6. That’s not ideal for a rookie quarterback and Trubisky was only 3-for-8 passing for 24 yards on third down.

Center Cody Whitehair’s holding penalty on Tom Johnson negated the best throw when Trubisky sprinted out right and hit Tre McBride for what would have been a 26-yard gain. Third down struggles were not all on Trubisky. He made a nice 8-yard pass to Kendall Wright to move the chains but the only other first downs were created when he scrambled as the Vikings were called for penalties each time.

Trubisky used nice windows to complete throws to Wright off shotgun play fakes. But the Harrison Smith interception with 2 minutes, 20 seconds remaining was a result of Trubisky forcing a throw after the play broke down and he was trying to do too much. He acknowledged as much afterward and will learn what he can try and what he can’t get away with.

He possesses the natural ability to make off-schedule plays when the first and second reads are not there and that’s what happened on the touchdown pass to Zach Miller. It was underthrown and safety Andrew Sendejo, with a chance to make an interception, misjudged the ball. The Bears could benefit from more run/pass options and plays to create throwing windows for receivers who struggle to get open. The final numbers — 12-for-25 for 128 yards – weren’t shiny. Quarterback grade: 5

Offensive line

Grade: 4

It was a rough night for the line as everyone but right guard Kyle Long was whistled for a penalty. Whitehair’s holding penalty was a big blow and right tackle Bobby Massie struggled in pass protection and run blocking. Left tackle Charles Leno had a false start and was too slow to prevent Everson Griffen from getting a strip/sack that resulted in a Vikings field goal. Left guard Josh Sitton’s holding penalty wiped out what would have been a 15-yard face mask penalty. The Bears are going to have a hard time winning with a collection of negative plays from the line.

Running backs

Grade: 5

The offense was adequate on the ground and Jordan Howard did a fine job running patiently on outside zone carries, finishing with 76 yards on 19 carries. A holding penalty wiped out a 42-yard touchdown run. The Vikings did a nice job of not over-pursuing Tarik Cohen and sealing the back side so he had nowhere to go on deep cutbacks. Cohen will have to hit the designed hole hard to create bend-back chances in coming weeks. He has to be a little more north-south with his running because the big play opportunity isn’t always going to be there. Fullback Michael Burton did well but got only six snaps.

Wide receivers

Grade: 2

Markus Wheaton finally picked up his first catch in three games but it came on the final play when the Bears were trying razzle dazzle with laterals. His penalty on the edge, holding nickel cornerback Mackensie Alexander when he grasped the jersey outside Alexander’s frame at the point of attack, was a killer as it wiped out Howard’s 42-yard touchdown. Tre McBride got 43 snaps and while he caught only one pass for 18 yards, he looks like an upgrade over Deonte Thompson and Josh Bellamy, who each got seven snaps. Kendall Wright was productive in the slot as he caught 4 of 5 targets for 46 yards.

Tight ends

Grade: 5

Dion Sims caught only one pass for 17 yards on four targets and had one bad drop. Sims was up and down run blocking. He had a nice block to spring Howard on the left edge for an 11-yard gain but missed Harrison Smith when the safety blew up Cohen for a 3-yard loss. Zach Miller was targeted seven times but made only three catches and it was another quiet night for Adam Shaheen, who got only 11 snaps.

Defensive line

Grade: 7

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